The whiz kid behind the ultimate teen love anthem and the inexplicably catchy "La Bamba."
Although his life was tragically cut short, Ritchie Valens’ inimitable blend of Mexican dance music and rock has influenced generations of rockers.
Ricky Martin Inducts Ritchie ValensRicky Martin Inducts Ritchie Valens at the 2001 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Ricky Martin Inducts Ritchie Valens00:00:40
Family of Ritchie Valens acceptance speech00:02:45
Hall of Fame Essay
In December 1958, Ritchie Valens paid a visit to his alma mater, Pacoima Junior High School, in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California.
Not much older than the assembled students (he had turned seventeen the previous May 13), he performed an assortment of its, his own and others’, including his latest single, the double-sided “Donna”/ “La Bamba,” which would climb into the Top Five by the following February.
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